GLASGOW motorists today claimed they were being ripped off by the council over city bus lanes.
As the Evening Times exclusively revealed on Tuesday, Glassford Street in the Merchant City, caught 28,000 drivers and generated almost £700,000 in just eight months.
Between April 23 – when the council launched its CCTV crackdown on bus lanes – and December 31 last year, a total of 27,922 charge notices were issued resulting in at least £685,380 in fines.
We were inundated with e-mails and letters from readers and our website attracted scores of comments from people giving their opinion on the city's most prolific money-generating bus lanes.
Council chiefs and passenger groups have defended bus lanes, saying drivers should avoid using them in the first place.
However, concerned members of the public have branded them the council's biggest "cash cow".
CCTV is installed at 11 loca- tions on main roads in the city, including North Hanover Street, Hope Street, Mary- hill Road and Duke Street.
Motorists caught in bus lanes receive a £60 fixed penalty fine, which is cut to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Among the comments made on the Evening Times website was one from William McGavin, from Glasgow, who said: "It's no surprise that Glassford Street in the centre of Glasgow is the biggest cash cow the council has ever had.
"I've watched numerous cars being driven up Glassford Street with their drivers totally oblivious to the signage telling them it's a bus/taxi/cycle lane.
"One of the biggest abuses of these lanes is at Stockwell Street heading towards Gorbals Cross."
Another writer, Sam McKeown said motorists were forced to use the Glassford Street bus lane, adding: "There is nowhere else to go except the wrong side of the road.
"If they want to keep this street for buses they should make it a no entry for cars."
Robert McWilliams, who was caught driving in the Glassford Street bus lane, asked where the money generated from the bus lanes was going.
He said: "We are being ripped off by Glasgow City Council.
"Where does all that money go? Why are there plenty of potholes on the roads?"
Ian Meechan said: "It is a scandal and another revenue stream for the council.
"If they really wished to keep these bus lanes clear, they would analyse the main offending locations and ascer- tain why there is such a high degree of transgression.
"If the council was really interested in cutting down offences and keeping the lanes clear, they would improve the signage at this location."
Johnny Mack added: "I don't think there is anything the council, or anyone else for that matter, who can persuade me that bus lanes are there to make money."
Alison McLean, 31, from Dennistoun, was caught in Glassford Street bus lane.
She said: "I got a letter the other day saying I had driven in a bus lane and at first I thought it was a mistake.
"Then I realised it was when I had dropped my daughter off outside the Subway sandwich shop- I had been in the bus lane only for a moment. I was really shocked."
At least 19,657 notices have been issued to motorists using the bus lane in Cathedral Street, generating £512,430, while the bus lane camera in Maryhill Road/Bilsland Drive netted 14,984 drivers, resulting in £411,190.
The camera which has caught the least amount of motorists is in Maryhill Road at Dalsholm Road. It netted 1616 people and generated revenues of £41,700.
Gordon McLelland, 32, a retail worker from Neilston, suggested using the money for road repairs.
He said: "It's a shocking amount to be caught. I think it's just ignorance and drivers do need to be aware.
"The money generated from catching people in bus lanes should be used to fix pot-holes so all drivers benefit."
Mairi Kelly, 32, a personal assistant from Clydebank, said: "I think bus lanes cause a lot of traffic problems.
"If they're going to put a bus lane somewhere they need a lot more signage. I've noticed a lot of drivers using the bus lane in Glassford Street but I don't think they even realise they can't use it until it's too late."
Lynn Magill, 52, of Castle- milk, said: "My friend got caught in a bus lane in Duke Street and she didn't realise she had been driving in one.
"I think a lot of drivers are in the same position, so more needs to be done so that people know where they can and cannot drive."
Susan McGuinness, 50, a college worker from Baillieston, said: "I travel by bus but I think the amount of people who are caught in bus lanes is far too much.
"Are people not realising there are bus lanes or are they just driving in them regardless?
"It's a big problem."
Ryan Molloy, 28, of Maryhill, said awareness needed to be raised so that people knew exactly where bus lanes began and finished.
He said: "My mum was caught in one and she couldn't believe it.
"There really needs to be more done so good drivers aren't getting caught out."
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "Driving in bus lanes has always been illegal and anyone with a driving licence is well aware of that fact.
"The vast majority of drivers will never receive a penalty because they stay within the law.
"The minority of drivers who do abuse bus lanes know exactly how to avoid receiving a fine - don't break the law."